A Rainy Day in Greenwich

October 23rd, 2007 by matt

Some of you might be aware that Greenwich is home to the Prime Meridian, which is where East and West meet (at least longitudinally). Were you aware how close Greenwich is to London? It’s actually right on the southwest edge of the City and an easy tube ride to it. Well, maybe you all do and I’m just being silly, but it’s one of those destinations I’d been wanting to see for many months. On one of the days when I was working, Carolyn found an interesting way to see the tourist parts of London — London Walks. It’s a slightly quirky way of getting a tour of London. Well, on one of my days off, we found one which would start over near the Tower of London then take the river ferry over to Greenwich for more edu-ma-cation. We thought it would be fun. And it was, except for the driving rain that didn’t let up until we were almost home and soaked to the bone :).

It’s a pity since Greenwich is very much about being outdoors. In its history it has been a favourite haunt of the royals as well as a rich maritime history. It’s been a naval hospital and is currently home to the University of Greenwich. As a result, it has tons of amazing architecture as well as the royal observatory which is why they chose it to be 0 degrees longitude.

Here’s a little fun in photos for your enjoyment.


This is part of what used to be the Naval hospital. After many years of living the tough life at sea, this ain’t a bad way to spend some time resting your days out.


Here’s a view looking up at the Royal Observatory. Yes, in this weather, we still hiked up there. At 1pm every day, that red ball rises up and then drops (like New Years in Times Square every day!).


After the walking tour ended, we took a little time to warm up in a pub with a pint and some good food (Shepherd Neame make some good pies as well as ales).  Then we made the hike up the hill, got a little lost and found our way to the Prime Meridian. Here’s Carolyn straddling two hemispheres!


Here’s a slightly taller (but no less wet) Matt in the same spot. hurrah!

England in the Rugby World Cup

October 20th, 2007 by matt

So I might not have a working TV (yet!) and I might be sick (I blame Krista for bring it into the office), but it’s the Rugby World Cup final and England, unlike in the Cricket World Cup earlier this year, are in the final. Last week, Carolyn and I went to a pub to check out the action which was tons of fun. Alas, I’m resting today so I don’t get too sick, so I’m using the wonders of the intertubes to watch it on my computer. Go England!

Oh yeah, I still have very little idea what’s going on in this sport. But I’m slowly picking it up (then I’ll know how rugby AND cricket are played). πŸ™‚

Update: England lost 15-6. I’d give you my insightful analysis, but I know very little about the sport.

Borough Market — More great food in London

October 16th, 2007 by matt

As I’ve previously commented on, the UK seems to have the US beat in terms of eating better — farmer’s markets are everywhere, organic food can be easily had even in the Walmart of England (Tesco) and there seems to be less salt in everything. Allow me to detail this a little more by talking about my first trip (yes, it took me 6 months to visit) to Borough Market. Think a farmer’s market on steroids. It’s located under a grand junction of railroad bridges going into the London Bridge rail station and it goes on forever. And in it is just about any possible food you can imagine. You can find local fruit and vegetables, free range meats (both common and not so common), baked goods, cheeses galore and  even a crazy variety of beer and wines. We managed to spend 4 hours there and only left because it was getting close to closing time and the crowds could be a little overwhelming (it was a beautiful Saturday to be out and about). Allow to show you:


Ignore the handsome gentleman in the foreground and just observe the people, the stalls and the architecture.


Fresh eggs and meat for the taking


The variety of cheeses amazed me. You had gigantic wheels of it and then small varieties. One guy was selling some sort of cheese he’d tracked down and brought back from the Swiss Alps.

We went with Dina. This being near London Bridge, you can never pass up a chance to cross the Thames and enjoy the views:


(I think we’re trying to look thoughtful — maybe?)


October 15th, 2007 by matt

Carolyn is gone which makes me very sad. πŸ™

And I’m having phantom ponytail moments. I keep thinking to put my hair up and there’s no hair to put up.

That’s all I got for now.

Sabbatical Anniversary

October 13th, 2007 by matt

While my adventure in London didn’t offically start until January or February 2007, the fun really began on 13 October 2006. This was the first day of my sabbatical. Carolyn and I spent the first two weeks exploring southern Italy. However, we book-ended this part of the trip with a day or two in England. In a moment of irony, while visiting Dina and Adrian in Brighton during this original European trip, Dina asked Carolyn and I if we could see ourselves living in England. We laughed and said ‘sure’, but pointed out that it was more likely that they’d move to the US before we moved to Europe. Little did we know that would be very very untrue πŸ™‚

Our last day of the sabbatical trip was spent in London. In honor of that (and in light of the fact that Carolyn is here right now), Dina came up to visit from Brighton and we did a little re-enactment of our fun there. We checked out the Tate Modern and wandered over the Millennium bridge again. Adrian wasn’t present, but it was a good time, nonetheless. I’ll post pictures and more fun about our day tomorrow.

In the meantime, if you feel like learning more about my sabbatical, check out my original blog.

London is suddenly a lot colder

October 12th, 2007 by matt

So, I’ve been saying for months that, once my hair was more than 10 inches long, I’d donate it and finally bite the bullet and figure out a hair style instead of the default ‘don’t get a haircut’ mode I’ve been in. Well, today was the day. Here is me before (my hair is wet as I’d just showered):


And here I am 2 hours later:


So what became of my hair? Well, it’s currently sitting on my kitchen table, drying. Soon, it’ll be in a ziplock bag and I’ll mail it to one of those charities that makes wigs for kids with cancer or early balding. The length was about 12 inches:


I managed to find a reasonably priced place with a guy who knew what he was doing. It looks like the cut he gave me should be flexible so, if I don’t like how it looks now, I can just tousle it around and it’ll be different. πŸ™‚

By Popular Demand…

October 11th, 2007 by matt

…here’s a picture of Carolyn and I. It’s during the interval (apparently, that’s intermission in Brit-speak) for the musical Avenue Q (more words below the picture):


We decided we ought to check out a show in the West End and both of us had been interested in seeing it. Now, I know you’re supposed to see a sophisticated British play and I know Avenue Q is not only not British, but set in NYC. However, we also went to see the Theatre district as patrons of a musical and check out a historic old theatre.

The show was, of course, well put on. Think of the Sesame Street, except the characters are porn watching, drinking 20-somethings and Mr. Hooper is Gary Coleman (an actor playing Gary Coleman). Oh yeah Bert (aka, Rod) is gay, but Ernie is not. And, instead of just seeing the puppet, you see the puppeteer/singer. So, you get two shows in one. Sometimes you watch the puppet, sometimes the actual human. It was well written and well performed. Fun for the whole family (but don’t bring the whole family since the puppets have sex). Here’s Carolyn outside the theatre:


Hampton Court Road and the Fairhursts

October 9th, 2007 by matt

So, Carolyn is here and I’m trying to show her allllll that London has to offer. However, on her first full day here, Carolyn was the organizer, not me :). Back in middle school, a family moved into her home town for a 3 year stint in the US. As it were, the husband had a temporary transfer for a job so he, his wife and 3 teenage kids moved to the US for a little while. They are back in London and live in a suburb southwest of London. Since Carolyn was coming to visit, they invited us out for an afternoon of fun and games. They have a lovely house only about 30 minutes from Waterloo. We came out there and had lunch and tea. And, since there’s always something interesting to see in England, even if it’s the suburbs, we took a little trip to Hampton Court Road. This was the country palace of Henry VIII. Yes, the country palace. Now that things have gotten a little bigger in England, it’s surrounded by the outer ring of the city. But at one point, this was a long trip to get out of town. It’s conveniently located along the Thames so the king could simply hop on a boat and float from the Tower of London to his weekend house.


This would be part of his ‘weekend house’


Here is Carolyn with Rob and Chris Fairhurst along the grounds of the palace.

We didn’t go in (you need a full day to do that), but we walked all over the gardens and along the river. It was a beautiful place and a wonderful setting. I found it amazing that, in an area that had a suburban feel to it, there’s a 15th century palace just hanging around.
Now, since I just got my new camera (how do the pictures above look?), I thought I’d throw in a little cat photo for those concerned parents. Here’s Anna chilling on the bed:


Coming soon: Greenwich!

Carolyn’s Coming!

October 6th, 2007 by matt

This is just short note to point out that, in a very short while, Carolyn will be arriving in London. Alas, it’s not for good, but she’ll have her first chance to see London without the tourist thoughts. It’s a very different city when you look at it as a potential place to live. Needless to say, I’m very much looking forward to her arrival. πŸ™‚

Plus, she’s bringing me a new camera, so I’ll be able to document things again. Lots of excitment!


October 1st, 2007 by matt

So I like the band Radiohead a lot. They’ve done a wide variety of interesting music with the kind of sound I enjoy. But this isn’t why I’ve entitled this post ‘Brilliant’. It’s how they’re selling their latest album. If you pre-order a digital download of their album, you choose the price. If you want to pay £0, you pay nothing (probably a little fee for processing). If £15 is ok by you, pay them £15 (someone online I read says they’ll pay that much as they want this experiment to succeed) that’s what they’ll pay. Personally, I want them to know what I consider the value of an album. It’s been a while since I was actively buying any commercially available music (with a few exceptions). In my world, the value of an album is about $5. Since this is so novel, I’m gonna round up (and pay in pounds). But I will legitimately purchase this album for what I think is the value of any album. I think the concept is great. I don’t expect every band to be able to pull it off, but I love the idea.

I say I’ll buy it, but their site has just gone reeeeaaaally slow. It’s probably because it just made it to Slashdot which has been known to turn servers into smoldering pieces of metal. πŸ™‚